Early Mets spring training hero Trayce Thompson is showing his value

Enjoy the spring homers because it might be all we get to see from him.
Feb 26, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA;  New York Mets left fielder Trayce Thompson (43) rounds
Feb 26, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; New York Mets left fielder Trayce Thompson (43) rounds / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to be April before we know it and fans will be gearing up to blast off tweets about how the New York Mets need to call up Trayce Thompson. The early spring training hero has already homered twice, driven in six, and made his case to climb the team’s depth chart.

An athletic outfielder who can play center field well, he’s a guy who teams seem to fall in love with. He has had three separate stints with the Chicago White Sox. The Los Angeles Dodgers have invited him back. Nothing, a coincidence, or a glitch in the matrix, his entire MLB career has been spent with either a California or Chicago ball club.

The trouble with Thompson is that in those MLB opportunities he hasn’t hit consistently enough. Through 1,058 plate appearances he’s a .212/.300/.411 hitter. Last year’s .163/.285/.294 slash line with the Dodgers and White Sox was a rough turn after such a promising 2022 campaign which saw him bat .268/.364/.537 in 74 games for Los Angeles.

Can Trayce Thompson actually win his way onto the Mets Opening Day roster?

The intention was never for Thompson to make the roster. The non-existent minor league options would make him an immediate DFA candidate. The Mets went through this last year with Tim Locastro making the club out of camp. An early season injury plus several setbacks later in the year helped keep him around. We can speculate about how genuine some of those ailments are considering how convenient they came about and the verdict in the Billy Eppler accusation of improper IL use.

For Thompson, his presence on the Mets is all about ensuring they don’t get caught without too few outfielders. It’s specifically in center field where they’re almost insistent on having someone capable of making the plays even if it means a downswing in the offense.

Thompson has proven himself enough at the Triple-A level. He was monstrous in 2022 while batting .305/.365/.721 with 17 home runs in only 170 trips to the plate. We can fully expect those kinds of numbers for Syracuse this year with maybe a few less home runs. One in every ten plate appearances is unheard of.

The one player he could replace is DJ Stewart, however, the Mets routinely batting him leadoff or in the middle of the order suggests they’re keen to keep him around. The one left-handed bat with pop they’d have available on the bench as well, keeping him around seems almost necessary as protection in case Mark Vientos falters in the DH spot. Curiously, Thompson has performed better against righties in his major league career with reverse splits than what we'd normally expect.

Thompson has been a delight so far. The first Mets grand slam of 2024 belongs to him. Tearing apart pitchers working out the kinks or hoping to just keep a job may continue. We’re jumping the gun to believe he or many of the other minor league free agent signings have a chance to make the Mets. Someone needs to strain their groin before we have that conversation. Until then, continue to enjoy Thompson while you can.